Vocational Letter, March ’20.
by Fr. S. Jesu Doss, CMF
When I read paragraphs 248-258 of the Exhortation Christus Vivit by Pope Francis
addressed to the youth of our time, what stands out most to me is his approach to qualify the Christian vocation as a missionary one. His emphasis on this aspect is very pertinent for our being missionaries of the Word.
Today when we speak of vocation, we instantly explain it with different approaches such as call, response, God's voice, inner resounding, fear, shock, hesitation, decision making, clarification, discernment, mission, being and working for others, etc. Certainly, these are certain meanings that echo in us. We don't utter them as some simple mental list of vocabulary words to explain our Christian vocation in a conceptual manner. These are the important realities of our daily life born out of our encounter with our Lord Jesus and the world. Thus, Christian Vocation is not a concept or a theory, but it is an experience of an encounter between Jesus and his disciple; between me and Jesus; between you and Jesus.
Our vocation as religious missionaries is an experience of God. Each person who has begun his vocational journey has discovered the inner whisperings of God’s calling taking place in all of us. When we immerse ourselves in this vocational experience, we find ourselves an experience of God. Our encounter between Jesus and ourselves becomes very intense and intimate such that our innermost being starts spontaneously listening and responding to his voice in a permanent way, rather than being a matter of the remote past. We start looking at ourselves and our surroundings out of a vocational concern about how to respond to the call of Jesus “in praying, working and suffering" in the words of our Father Claret.
For me, this vocational experience is something very basic for remaining more committed in my own being to the experience of God. The two important lessons from initial formation which I try my best to keep alive in myself are: prayer and spiritual accompaniment. The principle of “first hour of the day is for Jesus first” is a call to sit at his feet and listen to him. Reading and listening to his Word in the gospel of the day and ruminating on it in an attitude of listening, leads me to be aware of my need to listen to him throughout the day. In this encounter with Jesus through listening to his voice, there are wider possibilities to discover the different gifts I am showered with. For me, each gift is a call from the Holy Spirit to respond to him by making use of my gifts for the good of my community. Getting up early and seeking his Eucharistic presence is a joyful experience already in the first hour of the day. My initial formation is still helping me to go beyond a mentality of fulfilling the timetable of the house and get into the House of Jesus to be alone with him.
Another lesson from formation that I make use of in my vocational journey is spiritual accompaniment. I can't forget the insights I received from my spiritual directors beginning with my initial formation and after. It is a transparent sharing and dialogue taking place between the accompanying person and the one being accompanied. The deliberations and discernment received from this encounter are helpful to grow in the demands of my obligation to protect the roots of my vocation and make my missionary life meaningful and joyful. The essential need of it is sensed more and more in daily life. The principle of “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31) is a lived and living experience. It gives us courage to confront our inner struggles, to be true to ourselves and to the call received from Jesus. For me, spiritual accompaniment is seeking the will of God and being constantly reminded of it. It is not merely narrating the personal achievements to an individual, but it is realizing one's miserable need to search for the Light of Jesus in the darkness.
Thus, our Claretian Missionary Vocation becomes joyful and meaningful based on our God experience accompanied by a wise person who is able to perceive the movements of the spirit. As a young person initiating yourself to listen to the call of Jesus in the footsteps of Father Claret, why not consider your capacity for silence and solitude to be with Jesus and listen to him? Why not be bold enough to be generous in allowing yourself to be accompanied by someone who knows the inner movements of the Holy Spirit to respond to the call of Jesus?
Fr. S. Jesu Doss, CMF